High Stakes

Spencer Lucas

Alumnus Spencer Lucas fought for three young boys who lost their parents and earned the largest wrongful death verdict in San Diego County.

For Spencer Lucas (JD ’04), the seeds of a career focused on fighting for the victim, were planted back in law school. It began the summer after his first year, when he interned at Pepperdine’s Legal Aid Clinic at the Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles.

“Because the Pepperdine program allowed 1Ls to get in there and actually do fulfilling work for families on Skid Row, I found it to be a very rewarding experience to use what little I knew, which gave me a perspective and foundation for the work I do today,” he explains.

He continued maximizing opportunities at Pepperdine by helping to advance the school’s Global Justice Program. After researching different programs, Lucas and his wife Heather, applied for and received a $10,000 grant from the Lilly Foundation. The grant funded summer work for law students in Honduras, alongside the International Justice Mission.

Today Lucas is an attorney with Panish Shea & Boyle in Santa Monica, California, where he takes many wrongful death cases and fights to ensure that his clients are protected and compensated.

In the past two years, Lucas has tried four wrongful death or catastrophic injury cases to verdict. A recent case in San Diego Lucas was particularly complex.  “We represented three young boys, whose parents were both killed when their family camper van rolled over after a tire tread separation. It became a complicated product liability/negligence case including six different corporate defendants,” he says. “I worked on this case for over three years before we went to trial against Mossy Ford for two months.” Ultimately, they settled the product liability claims for $8.3 million and the jury gave a total award of $14.5 million—the largest wrongful death verdict in San Diego County history.

In May, Lucas obtained another $14 million verdict on behalf of an injured truck driver who was crushed by a 25,000-pound container at the Port of Long Beach. This result was the largest verdict in Long Beach history.

“The one thing that all of our clients have in common is that they each are faced with tragedy, in the death of a loved one or a catastrophic injury,” says Lucas of the work that gets him out of bed each day. “It is an extremely fulfilling feeling to help bring justice to our clients. When you go through a lengthy trial, it becomes so consuming that your clients become your family. There is so much at stake for everyone.”

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